Brit-born Caroline Johnstone directed an eclectic slate of documentaries, reality shows and corporate projects, many for Wellington company Top Shelf. Always up for a challenge, she worked on subjects ranging from coins, to con artists, to drag performers (one-off doco The Drag Kings). Described by those close as a “total adventure-seeking thrill seeker”, Johnstone died after a fall at Whakapapa skifield, on 31 August 2013.
Popstars was a key part of the late 1990s reality television explosion. The series followed the creation and development of all-female pop band TrueBliss (Carly Binding, Keri Harper, Joe Cotton, Megan Alatini and Erika Takacs). The five singers went on to record several chart-topping singles, and a platinum-selling album. Also a hit was the series format, which sold around the world and helped inspire Pop Idol/American Idol, the franchise that would dominate reality television for years to come. Popstars was named Best Entertainment Programme at the 1999 NZ Television Awards.
Alison Holst (DNZM, CBE, QSM) has been a household face since the early days of New Zealand television, when her debut show, Here’s How: Alison Holst Cooks, was an instant hit. Her mission was to cook for ordinary people, use uncomplicated ingredients and stick to a budget. Rejecting her unliberated image, she aimed to get women out of the kitchen by making cooking simple.
Dan Salmon is a multi award-winning director and producer of documentary (Made in Taiwan, Here to Stay) and drama (Licked, The Day Morris Left). His documentaries have screened on TVNZ, ABC, Al Jazeera and EBS in Korea, and at festivals in Tahiti, Canada and the United States.
Pat Robins has been active in the screen industry since the 1960s, across varied behind the scenes roles. In the early 70s Robins, her then husband Geoff Murphy and their children took to the road with musical collective Blerta. After production managing on classics like Goodbye Pork Pie, Utu, and Ngāti, she first stepped out on her own as a director in 1985, with her first short Instincts.
A part-time job at a cinema sparked Brian Holland's screen career. Soon he was managing a multiplex, and working as a film publicist. Holland's film knowledge got him a job programming movies for television. His 12 years at TVNZ included time as TV2's Assistant Programming Manager. In 2005 Holland left TVNZ and moved into producing television. In 2006 he joined Wellington's Top Shelf Productions, where he has developed programmes and been nominated for two NZ TV Awards in the one year: for the Mike King-presented Nutter's Club and offbeat arts show The Sitting. He is now Top Shelf's Head of Development.
Kiwi-Samoan Robbie Magasiva was performing in a primary school talent quest when he fell in love with acting. At age 16 he made his first screen appearance, playing a police cadet in a TV commercial. Since then Magasiva has honed his skills in television (Aussie series Wentworth, Shortland Street, The Semisis), film (Stickmen and Sione's Wedding) and stage (comedy group The Naked Samoans).
Detroit-raised Doug Dillaman likes moving pictures so much that when not cutting images himself, he's often writing about film. In 2004 Dillaman headed to NZ to study editing, then began cutting for local television, including Let's Get Inventin' and Maddigan’s Quest. In 2008 he joined a filmmaking collective who met each Sunday. Dillaman worked with many of them on his directorial debut: identity-switching movie Jake.